This guest post is by Lenny Moon of Equinometry. Lenny Moon is the founder of Equinometry.com where he shares his thoughts on handicapping and betting horses and handicapping contests. You can also occasionally find him in the grandstand of Laurel Park and more often in a handicapping contest on Derby Wars. He can also be found on Twitter @Equinometry.
On any given day there are dozens of handicapping contests running at Derby Wars. There are small fields and large fields, low entry fee and high entry fee, win/place and survivor. The abundance and variety is great because there is something for just about everyone but it’s very easy to get carried away.
When I take the time to handicap a race card I want to get the most bang for my buck. That means being in action as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong that doesn’t mean betting every race or every wager available it means finding the best opportunities and maximizing the return on those opportunities.
The same philosophy applies to handicapping contests at Derby Wars. If I really like my selections I want to capitalize on those opinions by maximizing my return on investment.
For a while this meant entering every handicapping contest that included the sequence of races I handicapped. When my selections came in this strategy was fantastic but when they ran out it was devastating.
One day I would go six for six, the next zero for six. It didn’t take long for me to realize this strategy was flawed.
Flaws in Overextending Yourself
First of all there is not one optimal strategy that applies universally to all the different types of handicapping contests. Picking eight longshots might work in a 200 player point’s contest where most players are liberal in their selections but it is a terrible long term strategy in Head to Head contests.
Secondly there is a limit on the number of entries one can actively manage effectively. An example outside horse racing can be found at a bingo hall (yes they still exist). For the uninitiated one or two cards are the max but for a veteran twenty cards is a breeze. Handicapping contest players are no different. Some can handle only one or two entries at a time while others can handle ten or more.
Lastly entering too many handicapping contests can lead to wild fluctuations in your bankroll. A good day can double or triple it but a bad day can reduce it by half or worse yet wipe it out.
Finding the Right Balance
Determining which handicapping contests to enter depends on your selections and confidence level that day. If the contest races look chaotic and you find yourself landing on a bunch of longshots it’s probably best to avoid Head to Head or 3 to 5 player games. If the races look straightforward and the likely winners logical those contests are probably your best chance of cashing. In either case your confidence level must be the primary factor in deciding which contests to enter. Be aggressive when you are confident and passive when you are not.
Deciding how many handicapping contests to enter again should be driven by your confidence level but also depends upon your comfort level. I can handle five entries comfortably and up to ten is manageable. It becomes more difficult when entering two or more of the same contests, such as three $11 Head to Head’s. I’m most comfortable entering only one of each contest. Instead of entering three $11 Head to Head’s I’ll enter one $11 and one $22, which will result in the same total winnings. Your comfort level will likely be different and it’s important to establish it as soon as possible.
Bankroll management is the downfall of many horseplayers because there are so many wagering opportunities and that same pitfall can befall handicapping contest players. As mentioned above there are dozens of opportunities on an average day at Derby Wars and it can be tempting to jump in with both feet. Instead it’s probably best to take a step back and evaluate the opportunities at hand. This will take a lot of self-discipline and it may take some time to learn the necessary restraint but the result will be a much healthier bankroll and less clicks of the deposit button.
Take Action Today
There is no better time to start improving your handicapping contest performance than today. Take a look back at your successes and failures over the past couple of weeks and:
- Find the formats that work best for your handicapping style
- Determine the best strategy for each of those formats
- Find your comfort zone of how many entries you can manage at one time
- Assess your confidence level and be aggressive when you are most confident
- Manage your bankroll wisely
Good luck and if you have any advice you would like to share be sure to do so in the comment section below.
Lenny Moon is the founder of Equinometry.com where he shares his thoughts on handicapping and betting horses and handicapping contests. You can also occasionally find him in the grandstand of Laurel Park and more often in a handicapping contest on Derby Wars. He can also be found on Twitter @Equinometry.